My childhood is filled with baseball memories. Growing up in Connecticut, the summer is when I learned to play the game. Couldn't imagine growing up without baseball.
"The games will actually start the Monday after fourth of July, which I believe is Monday July seventh. And it runs until school begins," Athletic Superintendent of Tallahassee Parks Cindy Mead said.
Fourth of July and baseball go hand in hand, but for Tallahassee, kids ages 11 through 14, summer baseball was almost not an option.
"With the numbers over summer being lower, we fight with the rains throughout the season, we came up with a viable option," Mead said.
The city owns the fields but its non profit organizations that run them. It's up to each park's board to administer the programs. This summer, the board decided they and the players could use a break,. and our youngsters could pick baseball back up in the fall.
"For our capital kids, they almost all play football. So fall baseball is not an option. So if you don't have summer ball, then basically they don't play till next spring," league volunteer Mark Hendrickson said.
With that in mind the city asked Capital Park to run the citywide program for 13 -14 year old kids and Winthrop Park to take the lead for 11-12 year olds.
And With the help of parents and volunteers, these two parks stepped up and took on players from anywhere within the city and county regardless of what park they are zoned for.
"We thought there wasn't going to be any summer ball, but then we heard that there was, we looked on the city website didn't see any information, but gratefully we got some word of mouth from some other parents that were interested in playing summer ball and we were able to find out about them and get registered." volunteer Coach Eric Thorn said.
"We find the time, we have big rosters, there's a lot of vacations, we're a little bit more flexible. If we have to borrow players, we'll do it, but just to get them out on the field, very important." volunteer coach Mark Chwalik said.
"We found out about the teams, they collaborated together which is here at capital. You have to drive clear across town, but if he loves the game, I don't care where it's at I'm gonna drive him to a different neighborhood to play the game," volunteer parent Anthony Reaves said.
Mark Hendrickson's son is all grown up but he's taking an active role because he understands how important summer baseball at capital park was for his son.
"It's the age where twelve year olds are moving up to the thirteen year old field, the bases are twenty feet farther. To them it's a huge field and they've got to learn to adjust to play. Particularly defense to learn to play on a bigger field," Hendrickson said.
"For the kids that play a fall sport, this is their only chance other than spring to play and at this age group, they really need to play more than one season to stay competitive," Thorn said.
"There's chances for them to improve, it's a long ways off till high school baseball, if they want to keep playing, this is the time to improve," Chwalik said.